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Featured Grantee Partner: Clinica Amistad

Interview Series: Transformational Grantmaking

1.    What are three interesting things people don’t know about Clinica Amistad?

  • Clinica Amistad provides free healthcare for people in need, regardless of immigration status. At Clinica Amistad, no one pays for services.
  • Medical providers are volunteers. Whether the providers are retirees or they come to offer their services after they’re done at work, they lend their expertise in providing high-quality care to those who need it.
  • There’s great synergy between the clinic and our student volunteers. Most of these students are pre-med or are working on their Masters in Public Health. Through the clinic, we’re able to provide training to these young people while they offer their expertise and skills to the people we serve.

2.    What are you most excited about that’s happening at your organization?

About a year ago, we were able to finally move to a permanent location. During the 12 years prior to that, we were located in a place that really wasn’t equipped to be a medical facility. We had to take equipment out every time it was needed because there was no permanent place for it. Our medical exams were essentially done in offices. We had one exam table in the whole area. Because of this move to a permanent location, we’ll be able to grow into a full-time clinic.

3.    How has a grant from the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona transformed your organization? Is there something you now do differently?

Infrastructure is the biggest thing that has been transformed for us. Although the support of the Women’s Foundation alone wasn’t enough to help us move to the new location, it certainly helped us leverage that support into additional support from other funders, and it gave us the confidence to sign the dotted line for the new location. We were also able to expand our paid staff, which we previously had none. Prior to receiving the grant from the Women’s Foundation, the clinic’s founder would answer his phone 24/7 on behalf of Clinica Amistad. We weren’t taking any appointments; it was first-come, first-served. Now we have a part-time scheduler who can take care of appointments. All this has helped give us a greater sense of continuity and professionalism.

4.    How has your organization grown stronger, increased its impact or changed because of your partnership with the WFSA?

Overall, we’ve been able to increase our impact by increasing the number of patients that we serve. Year-to-year, the number of patient visits has increased by 44%.

5.    How did you first hear about the WFSA and their grants?

A friend of mine who is in a non-profit asked me if I knew about the Women’s Foundation. When I said “no,” he was surprised because he thought their grant would be a great match for us. In the past, we’ve only reached out to our own donors and supporters. But now, thanks to the Women’s Foundation, others get to hear about us. And we were so lucky to be funded the first year we applied for a grant.

6.    What keeps you up at night when thinking about your organization?

  • Recruiting more providers since, at this time, we’re open 2 days a week, but we pay for rent for 24/7. One way we’re able to recruit providers is that, in a free environment, providers don’t have to worry about medical malpractice because it’s not needed. However, the law could be interpreted in such a way where having medical malpractice liability insurance is still beneficial.
  • Our Medical Director is getting old. Although he puts in an incredible amount of work, he’s planning to retire in a couple of years, and we need to start thinking about that eventual circumstance now. Ideally, it would be great if we could hire a combination Medical Director/Executive Director. Right now, we don’t even have a person serving as an Executive Director, so continuity is very important.
  • And speaking of continuity, I also think about keeping efficiency up with a often-changing group of providers. In particular, our students tend to disappear at the end of a semester, so we have new students coming and going.

7.    What do you see ahead for women and girls in Southern Arizona?

The population we serve is around 85% Latinas. Right now, there’s an enormous amount of fear due to the political climate. They’re happy that they can come to a safe place and get care at Clinica Amistad, but there’s still fear. We expect a huge wave of patients at the clinic since many of them will be afraid to go to a doctor, and we also anticipate cuts in AHCCCS and Medicare or even the ACA. So we’ll continue to serve people who don’t have insurance, who can’t pay or are afraid to go elsewhere.

8.    And finally, is there anything else you would like to add about how the Women’s Foundation helps you in fulfilling the mission of your organization?

The best thing about the WFSA’s grant is that it’s unrestricted. This is a really big deal for us because it has helped us expand and move forward and be more functional.

In anticipate donations to Clinica Amistad to go up because people will be motivated to do something, and I expect a surge in people stepping forward.

Alan Binnie is a Board Member with Clinica Amistad, a free health clinic that opened in March of 2003 serving Tucson’s low-income uninsured community.

Special thanks to Women’s Foundation volunteers Gabriela Cervantes and Liz Levine for interviewing this organization and for serving as guest editors.